Although our bedroom last night was fine, think a spaceship cabin, the Auberge restaurant was pretty smart. Having restrained ourselves until just before 8pm, we sauntered down looking for the bar. Of course this place does not have a bar, and why should a hotel have a bar after all? So, lacking a drink and starving, we loitered around outside the restaurant looking hopeful.
A tall man in black took pity on us and showed us to one of many free tables. The lady in black (TLIB) noticing, shot him a glance of pure hatred, clearly he was not playing his part in The Sales Prevention Team. All around us there were very well dressed couples having the menu gastronomic so I, in my squashed shirt and trousers, unshaven and nicely set off by the splendid red shoes, slightly lowered the tone. Things got worse as an 'amuse bouch' of little glasses of gaspatcheo arrived on a piece of slate. I went to slide it closer to Emma and my glass fell over leaving a stain the shape of Sardinia all over the linen tablecloth. TLIB looked even more disgusted with us but at least hid the mess with a napkin.
We had a great meal, if very pretentious and expensive but we needed to mark the Longest Day.
This morning we were away just after 9. A slight delay caused by the tragic loss of my blue bungee, I can only hope that one day I'll see it again but in the meantime a black nylon belt suffices. Further delay was due to some fine mechanical repairs to Emma's rear mud guard fitting, the multi tool was worth its weight at last.
A great start to the day, some reasonable undulations, pretty rolling countryside and believe it or not, open cafés and bakeries. We stopped at around 20 miles and scoffed a pain au raisin before seeing a sign to Valencay.
Emma explained that there was a memorial to Section F of the Special Operations Executive, SOE, and that Anne Ponsonby, her mother, a former SOE wireless operator, had been there annually to pay respects to her colleagues who had died. It was an absolute must to visit.
The memorial is unimpressive, built on a roundabout but the facts are unforgettable. Of the 400 agents who landed in France, 104 died and many more airmen and resistance fighters were killed or captured. Sobered, we went into the town to look for some food.
We found what seemed to be the only place in town, full of customers and one stressed and very grumpy Lady in Black, clearly the Valency section of the Sales Prevention Initiative.
We waited for ages before making our choice, more time passed and she returned to tell us that those choices were 'off'. Ok, we'll have the hamburger de maison then. That too was off. Finally we settled for the plat de jour. When that finally came, it was a game of two halves, first a sort of coleslaw called prawn salad with some hot goats cheese, then, as we were thinking of asking for l' addition, a strange piece of big bacon in a mushroom sauce with a side order of chips arrived.
By that time we had made friends with some big bellied Aussies and some smaller French former cyclists. By the end of trying to explain to both sets what we are doing, I was speaking Frongstralian. Next time we bring cards to hand out. The French couple applauded our choice of route but raised their eyebrows over some of the stages, using words like Dure, Difficile and Fort.
Determined not to peddle through France without absorbing any culture, we opted for a visit to the Chateau de Valency, the former palace of Tallyrand, Napoleon's key right hand diplomat and general political fixer. It was fascinating and good use of an hour or so as we had been told that we could not arrive at tonight's destination until 6pm.
Finally setting off around 3, our legs had forgotten how to pedal and it was quite a slog out of the valley. Then turning South East again we hit a long straight but switchback like road. Whee down, puff up, wheee down, puff up, getting hotter and hotter and fanaticising about a cold beer. Eventually Issoudun came into our sights and we found our B&B. As we were not allowed to go in until 6, we had very civilised drink in the pretty main square and are now rather hoping that are hosts are expecting to feed us tonight. We are in an attic bedroom of an old mill which is eccentric, artistic and rather delightful. We shall see!
61 miles at an average of 13.3 mph which we feel is not too shabby. Another 60 ish day tomorrow to Montlucon and then a rest day. That will officially mark the end of the 'easy' part of the Great C2C Folly and I think that we will need the day off.
When planning routes, be prepared to add 10 miles as an F Factor, the F stands for all sorts of things including being lost but principally it's about Food. You just have to alter the planned route to find food and water. Plus of course if you want to deviate to see something.
I suspect that as we go farther south, the heat will become a real issue so we will carry an extra litre of water.
Wearing our Lycra tops with Caen to Cannes on them is a great introduction and we always end up chatting to someone, even if they can't understand a word of what I'm saying. My next task is to do some key phrases on Google translate. Carrying a large scale map of France with the route marked and night stops outlined is a good visual aid even if language skills are terrible.
On on, and now food and drink! I suspect my red shoes will fit in well here.
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